chanter_greenie: a Pringles can with the words 'you can't write just one' written across it (drabbles are like pringles)
[personal profile] chanter_greenie
This orange!verse story has been sponsored by W. Blondeau, an RL friend of mine. It introduces a recurring character, though telling who would be a spoiler.

Trigger warnings for internal and implied external transphobia and trans panic, societal misogyny, and one F-bomb.

"It's for my girlfriend," Aaron says, holding the peony pink coat as casually as he can manage. This leaves it dangling between his thumb and the rest of his fingers, an awkward half arm's length from his front, and he's obvious, he's so transparent he may as well be a windowpane, he knows he is.

"You're a regular Casanova, kid," the man behind the counter chuckles. "Bet your first date was to the bingo game at the church hall, too. Real romantic." But he rings up the coat and the accompanying socks--size 12, same as always--and leaves it at that. Aaron refuses to stare. If that was luck... He can hardly believe it.

The coat's cut for a girl. No self-respecting guy wears pink anything in public. Aaron squares faintly shaking shoulders, raises his chin a fraction of an unsteady inch, and walks out the door.

That coat comes through his kitchen door in a shopping bag. It stays upstairs under his bed for months, folded flat in the dusty cardboard box he keeps there. It'll crease, part of Aaron tells the rest of him. Said rest of him can't muster the energy to care about the detail.

"It's for my girlfriend," he explains, tipping the pair of notebooks and the four-pack of emery boards into a messy pile on the countertop. The girl at the register doesn't do well at all at hiding her smirk, but at least she doesn't say anything as she throws the purchases into a bag and scatters Aaron's change back at him. He decides, as he arrows out the door, to count that as a small victory.

He doesn't crack the notebook with yellow roses on the cover, just leaves it in the second drawer up from the bottom of his dresser, shoved beneath his socks and gathering fragmentary lint. The one with purple coneflowers on the front gets a similar treatment when it's not in use, but on nights when Aaron's sure no one is in range of a closed bedroom door, its pages slowly fill with compact, curly handwriting, pencil smudges  and blue ink washing out under the glare of his desk lamp.  I want to be a girl (crossed out) got to be a boy (crossed out) girl. Girlfriend.

"It's for my girlfriend." Aaron squawks it; voice breaking on the last word, and his face is burning even before he opens his mouth. The attendant's laughing at him, at his expression or his obvious embarrassment or the fact that he's buying a fucking grow-into, no-hooters-yet bra for his girl or something, and that's enough for him. That's enough and plenty. He shoves the bag into his hoodie's pocket, crumples it as hard as he can, leaves its handles flopping out one side and practically bolts through the sliding doors into the street.

He's never going to wear it. He swears that part to himself, over and over again in the back of his mind, chomping on his mental bottom lip till it bleeds. He's never going to put it on. But he keeps it.

"They're for my girlfriend," Aaron says. The cassettes rattle slightly in their plastic as they slide out of his hands. The teenager on the other side of the register grins; she can't be much older than he is, Aaron thinks. Maybe this'll-- He checks that thought like checking a swing, stops it before it's formed. It still makes his stomach flop uncomfortably, and he's not sure whether it's the lie itself or the layered denial of denial that's bothering him so much.

"Mixed tapes," the red-haired cashier says. "I get it." Her smile looks genuine. Aaron nods, because that much is true, and he isn't sure just how he's managing to feel both relieved at telling the truth and ashamed of his own relief at the same time, but he is. They're going to be some kind of mixed tapes, anyway. The reality of the almost-truth and the honesty mix in the back of his throat, tasting like charcoal and bitter coffee all the way home. Beats throwing up, Aaron thinks, and that's true too, sort of.

He makes even more sure no one's near his door before he uses any of the tapes. Then he pops one into his tape player, presses it to his radio's single speaker, spins the dial and hits record as bells peal on low volume and a trumpet plays a faint fanfare. This part's honest. Aaron loves it for that.

"It's for my girlfriend," Aaron says, as the bag - it's cheap nylon, but it's the best he can afford - hits the counter. He knows he doesn't have to explain himself, knows it isn't necessary to justify what he's buying, knows he's two steps from giving himself away every time he opens his trap about these things, but some part of him insists on talking, and that fragment's just too loud to override. This is what denial feels like, he thinks, and he can feel his face going hot even before the thought's fully formed.

"Weekend trip?" the guy behind the register guesses. Later, Aaron's going to be grateful that his blush was ignored. Right now he just shrugs. He's clutching the strap of the rustling black armful within five minutes of paying for the thing, crumpling it till it shows wrinkles he doubts will ever flatten out.

The important things are going to go in there, the things he knows he can't travel without. His winter longjohns - his mother would kill him if he didn't - and the pair of jeans he isn't wearing, his Detroit Tigers cap with the bend in the bill, both notebooks, his red sweater and a multicolored stack of shirts squashed to their flattest, the photo album of the whole family with the newspaper article about his Little League team sticking out the top. All the socks that'll roll. Size twelve, same as always. All the shorts he can manage to fit in there, because who knows when he'll get a chance to wash them or get more. They've all got a fly. The wrongness of that jars, again; Aaron stomps it as flat as the shirts he's going to pack.

His emery boards. The postcard he never bothered sending to anyone, the one that says WELCOME TO GRAND RAPIDS in blue ink. All the tapes that ever got made. That bra. Her bra.

Her pink coat, cut for a girl. At least to start with, anyway. Later, that might come out.

Girlfriend, Erin says to herself, and immediately goes hot from cheeks to toenails with a mixture of disgust and amazement at her own mental daring, you've got a long way to go and you know it.

Notes go here:

*Outbander is a term used for someone operating outside a usually-assigned set of radio frequencies. It can mean anything from a pirate station to a fishing fleet or a couple of travelers having a chat. Sometimes even legal broadcasters get this designation; Radio Verdad in Guatemala has been called an outbander, as it operates in between two assigned broadcast bands.

*The bells mentioned are the RNW interval signal. The trumpet voluntary is a well-known interval signal for the European services of the BBC, especially familiar during the Cold War. It's the second clip on the linked page.

*Grand Rapids is a city in Michigan


Date: 2014-08-10 02:47 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
I'm really pleased to see this go up. I like genderqueer stuff. Pink can be very symbolic.

*chuckle* Ironically one of my most macho characters, Hefty, happens to love pink. He's gay but looks like a prize steer.

Re: Yay!

Date: 2014-08-11 03:19 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
I like genderqueer stuff, too. Not sure what that says about me, but I'm not going to worry about it.

Re: Yay!

Date: 2014-08-11 03:22 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
Many people have a wider sensual or affectionate orientation than their sexual orientation. For example, one may be monosexual but bisensual. Liking genderqueer stuff is a clue that one might consider genderqueer people relationally relevant in some category.

Date: 2014-08-10 03:47 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Aaron / Erin. I like that.

• peonie
→ peony

• bells peel
→ peal

Date: 2014-08-10 01:20 pm (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu

Ne dankinde.


Date: 2014-08-11 01:16 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I love the last line. It pulls everything together, re-frames it, and leaves this reader feeling very optimistic.

As for the pink? She can have it all. LOL.

Date: 2014-08-11 02:53 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
I like it! It stands by itself perfectly well; no background needed.



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